Friday, October 17, 2008

First Night

One of the big what-ifs of First Night is the speculation over what recruits will be in attendance. This year, I can tell you that senior Kelly Faris of Heritage Christian in Indianapolis, and sophomore Olivia Bresnahan of Butler High School in Pittsburgh, were present.Faris, you may recall, committed to UConn in March while the Huskies were playing in Bridgeport.

"Itʼs hard for me to believe that Iʼm going to be here playing for Connecticut," Faris said. "You always dream of being with a program like this and to know I will be here is very relaxing to me. I have my decision made and I am just happy to be here to watch it all.
"Everyone told me that making my decision when I did would be a huge weight off my shoulders and it definitely was."

Faris played with the National Under-18 team this summer, which she said helped her game significantly. Coincidentaly, she saw the Huskies last year when they scrimmaged the Olympic team at Gampel.

"Playing with the national [u-18] team over the summer helped a lot with my mental outlook on the game. It was also a little taste of what the college game is like because it [the tournament] was played on a completely different level than what you see in hs and aau. You have to step up your game in order to get a shot on the court. I think Iʼm a better player because of it. And it also showed me many different things that I still need to work on before I get out here to play. I know I need to work on my shooting and become a better ball-handler, no matter where you are on the floor."

"When I visited last year and watched them practice, I realized it was everything that I was looking for, in terms of intensity and desire. I talked to the girls and found out how hard they are willing to work for what they desire."

Only a sophomore, the fact that Bresnahan was here bodes well. She avaergaed 15.2 points per game last season for Butler, and describes herself as more of the type of player who drives to the hoop and makes plays.

"I love the campus and the entire team seems no nice," she said. "Iʼm having a lot of fun. This is just the start of the whole process and itʼs a little overwhelming at the start. Iʼm trying to just take things one step at time and consider all of my choices. I know it has the potential to ger a little overwhelming and tiring at times. I think Iʼd like to have it over before my senior season just so all the pressure is off me."

A few notes on the evening...

I was surprised to see Heather Buck break out her dance moves. She is fitting in very well with this team and will be a big contributor. When I spoke to her Thursday, she mentioned how happy she is to be in a situation different than high school (where she won a state title with Jacquie Fernandes) because the last two years at Stonington Buck faced triple- and quadruple-teams by defenses. At UConn, because of Renee Montgomery, Maya Moore, Tina Charles, Kalana Greene and more, she will rarely see double teams. She's not going to know what to do with so little contact!

Montgomery has always been cocky, confident and not affraid to speak her mond. But as the leader of this team, she has a swagger that's been four years in the making. When introdiuced, she came out with oversized, fashion sunglasses (I think Charde left those for her). This is Renee's team and she's not affraid to let anyone know.

Tina Charles is sometimes criticzed for being too nice, especially by Geno Auriemma. Yes, her kindness can show itself on the floor as she can lack aggressiveness. There are moments where you stop and see the good her kindness brings. After the women's scrimmage, the team threw t-shirts into the stands for fans. Charles grabed her last t-shirt, pointed into the crowd, ran around the press row tables and asked a couple fans in the front row to move to their side. Then, Charles handed a t-shirt to a young child, maybe three years old. No matter how more aggressive Tina becomes on the basketball court, I hope that generous, caring aspect never goes away. She's a good kid, and I hope people who watch women's basketball know that.

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